Manifesto part 2
A Separate and Distinct People
In other words, the South is a nation. But just what is a nation? Is it merely a geographic subdivision on the map? An area ruled by a particular government? A collection of abstract political propositions? Or is it something deeper and more lasting?
Ernest Renan (1823-1892), a French political philosopher, provides a definition that fits the South like a glove. In a lecture given at The Sorbonne in 1882, called “What Is a Nation?” he said:
A nation is a soul, a spiritual principle. Two things, which in truth are but one, constitute this soul or spiritual principle. One lies in the past, one in the present. One is the possession in common of a rich legacy of memories; the other is present-day consent, the desire to live together, the will to perpetuate the heritage that one has received in an undivided form. The nation, like the individual, is the culmination of a long past of endeavours, sacrifice, and devotion. Of all cults, that of the ancestors is the most legitimate, for the ancestors have made us what we are. A heroic past, great men, glory (by which I mean genuine glory); this is the social capital upon which one bases a national idea. To have common glories in the past and to have a common will in the present; to have performed great deeds together, to wish to perform still more -- these are the essential conditions for being a people. One loves in proportion to the sacrifices to which one has consented, and in proportion to the ills that one has suffered. One loves the house that one has built and handed down. The Spartan song, "We are what you were; we will be what you are," is, in its simplicity, the abridged hymn of every patrie.
To be sure, the South has its collective and individual failings, and we don’t claim to be better than other peoples, but we are different. We respect the rights and existence of other national, linguistic, and ethnic communities. We understand -- even applaud – the assertion of their history, heritage, and folkways. But we expect the same rights and the same respect, and we take offence when the world celebrates every other nation while insulting, vilifying, and ridiculing us for celebrating ours.
We believe the South is not only an authentic nation, but also the last authentic Western civilization in the historic sense of the word, especially in contrast to today’s America, with its militant secularism, tawdry commercialism, and infantile celebrity worship that pass for civilization. We have little in common with the people of Boston, New York, San Francisco, or Seattle. If these States want homosexual “marriage,” if they want to turn their children over to the government to raise, if they want to sink into socialist dependency, if they want to submerge their communities in aliens from the Third World, if they want to disarm and render themselves helpless before criminals or a predatory state (assuming they can tell the difference), that’s their choice. But it’s not what we Southerners choose, or would choose if we had the chance. We see and feel things differently, based on our shared customs, beliefs, and experience. We have a right to live by our own lights rather than sacrifice our traditional wisdom on the altars of commercial expediency and Political Correctness.
Through the “long past of endeavors, sacrifice, and devotion,” in M. Renan’s words, liberty and independence were born in us; they are our legacy. We Southerners have both inherited and bequeathed a spirit of liberty and self-government – the ethos of Thomas Jefferson, a Southerner, as opposed to the centralizing and authoritarian ethos of Alexander Hamilton, a Yankee. But that liberty was not a gift. Our forefathers had to fight to win it. If what is left of that liberty is to be preserved, and if there is to be a rebirth of liberty in the South, we Southerners of today will have to fight to win it as well. It was in this realization that the SNC was born.
An Occupied People
130 years ago the last occupying Federal troops left the South after Reconstruction. (“Reconstruction” was the Yankee word for looting what they missed stealing or destroying during the War). Yet today we’re still occupied; not by foreign troops, but by an alien and hostile ideology, and by all the commercial and political power it commands. Like any people under occupation, Southerners have shown the usual varied responses. Many of us resist the best we can, keeping the spirit of liberty alive. For every Confederate flag or monument that comes down, we raise a dozen new ones in our hearts. Others are crushed in spirit; and when the conqueror, having taken their goods, then tries to rob them of their dignity, telling them they’re worthless, lazy, depraved, bigoted, and ignorant, they believe it and willingly accept second-class status in the Empire. Still others ape the conduct of the oppressor, internalizing his values in the vain hope of being accepted by their supposed betters. Sunk deep in denial, these collaborators are the first to tell us all is well, and we have no problems that can’t be fixed by redoubling our devotion to the Regime.
But no matter what our response, the American political process, mass education, including the university, the mass media, and even to an extent the legal process, are closed to Southerners as Southerners. We’ve been effectively disenfranchised. We are allowed to participate only as obedient subjects of the Regime, but not as Southerners.
How do we know? Well, for one thing, look at what happens to any Southern politician who dares to speak kindly, even in an unplanned, offhand manner, about any Southern icon. He will be pilloried unmercifully until he repudiates his heritage and apologizes. And his apologies can never be too craven, abject, and repeated to still the condemnation. (Sad to say, most such Southern politicians are cowardly enough to comply).
We’ve all been disenfranchised, not just politicians, by the relentless campaign of hatred and elimination of all things uniquely Southern from the public sphere. This campaign is not an inconsequential matter. It tells us our culture, and subsequently our liberties, are marked for extinction. The attempt to exterminate our history, symbols, and heritage gives us a clear warning of the nature of the Regime and its cohorts of professional South-haters. A truly free and open republic would feel no need to engage in such acts. It would respect the undeniable virtues enshrined in our symbols and embodied in our heroes. The buzzwords of today’s Regime are tolerance, diversity, and multi-culturalism. If these were true sentiments instead of lies, they would include us.
He who controls the past, controls the future.
-- George Orwell
The attempt to suppress our history and destroy the memory of our struggle to be true to ourselves is a hallmark of totalitarianism. The campaign against Southern history has ominous parallels: Stalin’s extraordinary efforts to expunge the names and images of his one-time colleagues like Kirov and Trotsky from books and newspapers. Hitler’s razing of Döllersheim, the ancestral village of his natural grandfather, and eliminating its very memory (from a fear the man was Jewish). Or the Jacobins of the French Terror, Mao Tse-Dong and the Red Chinese, and the Khmer Rouge, all of whom engaged in this most common behaviour of despots, warring against history and erasing memory. It reminds us of the words of Czech writer Milan Kundera: “The struggle against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.” We Southerners know this truth: we are what we remember. If our history and collective memory can be obliterated, then the Regime that governs today’s United States of Amnesia can mould us into whatever form of servile subject it desires.
previous section, Part 1
next section, Part 3
The Grand Bargain
The South and the American Republic
If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.
What is liberty without wisdom and without virtue?